Country of origin:
Isle of Man
The Manx (kayt Manninagh or stubbin in Manx Gaelic) is a breed of cats with a naturally occurring mutation of the spine. This mutation shortens the tail, resulting in a range of tail lengths from normal to tailless. Many Manx have a small 'stub' of a tail, but Manx cats are best known as being entirely tailless and is the distinguishing characteristic of the breed and a cat body type genetic mutation.
The Manx breed originated on the Isle of Man (hence the name), where they are common. They are called stubbin in the Manx language. They are an old breed, and tail-less cats were common on the island as long as three hundred years ago. The tail-lessness arises from a genetic mutation that became common on the island (an example of the Founder effect). The Manx tail-less gene is dominant and highly penetrant; kittens from Manx parents are generally born without any tail. Having two copies of the gene is lethal and kittens are usually spontaneously aborted before
birth. This means that tail-less cats can carry only one copy of the gene. Because of the danger of having two copies of the tail-less gene, breeders have to be careful about breeding two tail-less Manxes
together. Problems can be avoided by breeding tail-less cats with tailed ones and this breeding practice is responsible for the decreasing occurrence of spinal problems in recent years.
The hind legs of a Manx are longer than the front legs, creating a continuous arch from shoulders to rump giving the cat a rounded appearance.
Manx kittens are classified according to tail length:
Manx cats exhibit two coat lengths. The short-haired Manx has a double coat with a thick, short under-layer and a longer, coarse outer-layer with guard hairs. The long-haired Manx, known to some cat registries as the Cymric, has a silky-textured double coat of medium length, with britches, belly and neck ruff, tufts of fur between the toes and full ear furnishings. The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) considers the Cymric to be a variety of Manx and judges it in the short-hair division, while The International Cat Association (TICA) judges it in the long-hair division. Short- or long-haired, all Manx have a thick double-layered coat.
Pedigreed Manx cats today are much healthier and have fewer health issues related to their genetics than the Manx of years ago. This is due in part to the careful selection of breeding stock, and knowledgeable, dedicated breeders. Manx have been known to live into their mid- to high-teens and are no less healthy than other cat breeds.
Manx Syndrome is a colloquial name given to the condition which results when the mutant tailless gene shortens the spine too much. It can seriously damage the spinal cord and the nerves causing spina bifida as well as problems with the bowels, bladder, and digestion. Some only live for 3 years; the oldest recorded was 5. In one study it was shown to affect about 20% of Manx cats, but almost all of those cases were rumpies, which exhibit the most extreme phenotype. Actual occurrences of this are rare in modern examples of the breed due to informed breeding practices. Most pedigreed cats are not placed until four months of age (to make sure that they are properly socialised) and this gives adequate time for any health problems to be identified. Renowned feline expert Roger Tabor has stated that "Only the fact that the Manx is a historic breed stops us being as critical of this dangerous gene as of other more recent selected abnormalities."
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